We teach writing through the Talk for Writing approach, developed by Pie Corbett. The aim is to develop imaginative, creative and effective writers, who are able to independently write for a variety of audiences and purposes. Throughout the year the children will cover non-fiction, fiction and poetry texts.
Talk for Writing enables children to imitate the key language they need, before they try reading and analysing it. Through fun activities that help them rehearse the tune of the language they need, followed by shared writing to show them how to craft their writing, children are helped to write in the same style. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’ as well as close reading to analyse it. The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully.
Talk for writing is taught in 3 stages referred to as the 3 I's, Imitation, Innovation and Independent Application. The stages are explained below:
Cold Write- Teachers provide the children with a stimulus in which the children write from without any initial teaching. The aim of this is to see what the children can do independently at the start of a unit, drawing on their prior learning. Assessment of their writing helps the teacher work out what to teach the whole class, different groups and adapt the model text and plan. From this a main focus for the unit of work will be identified.
The Imitation stage
Text mapping. To begin the unit, the children internalise a whole text or the selected focus section from the model text. The model text is pitched well above the pupils’ level and has built into it the underlying, transferable structures and language patterns that students will need when they are writing. This is learned using a ‘text map’ and actions to strengthen memory and help students internalise the text. Activities such as drama are used to deepen understanding of the text.
Reading as a reader - Here the children unpick the writing to understand what the author has intended. Vocabulary is magpied and added to the class magpie walls alongside unpicking the structure of the text. All of this first phase is underpinned by rehearsing key spellings and grammatical patterns.
Reading as-a-writer - Here the children innovate the focus section along with short burst writing activities to embed skills and the chosen focus. Shared writing allows the children to have modelled the use of the focus skills and to ‘have a go’ themselves. Class toolkits for how to be successful with their piece of writing are created.
Eventually, students move on to the Independent Application, which is when they apply what has been taught and practised. Here, the children will plan and write their ‘Hot Write.’ Students are guided through planning, drafting and editing their work independently.